Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Drowning In Sleaze

Whether it's cash-for-honours, employing yer lad on a big wodge to do nowt, or forgetting to mention that many-thousand-pound donation that some generous-but-anonymous geezer gave you, we appear to be drowning in a sea of sleaze. But while party leaders appear to find this embarrassing - and certainly do blush at some of their own MPs' more cringeworthy gaffes - I wonder whether, in the great scheme of things, they are doing themselves a favour.

Thing is, lots of people seem to be saying to me stuff like "They're all the same" ... "You can't have politics without sleaze" ... "There's nothing we can do about it", and so on. And an electorate which feels powerless to do anything other than select the least awful option on those rare occasions when the ruling party decides they should have a vote mightily suits those with their snouts in the trough of power.

So it seems to me that the left must assert that we CAN do something about it, and raise some key democratic demands, such as:
  • MPs should be paid the average wage.
  • No second jobs for MPs.
  • Constituents should be able to recall their elected representative - for example, a certain number of signatures on a petition should trigger a by-election.
  • The best way to do away with cash-for-honours is to do away with honours.

Moreover, the labour movement has a particular responsibility to keep its own representatives in line. Perhaps those parties whose job it is to represent the ruling class have an excuse - the people they represent are parasitic sleazebags permanently on the take, so why shouldn't their representaives be?! But the labour movement? That's supposed to represent ordinary people who live off a meagre return for their own labours.

It used to be a staple of the left that a workers' MP should be on a workers' wage (and ditto for trade union bureaucrats). But it is one of many principles that have fallen off the radar. Let's have it back.

PS. What are the chances of Respect renewal taking up these demands?! More interestingly, what are the chances of SWP-Respect taking up these demands now that they have split from their main reason for rejecting them?